Thinking Anglicans

GS: covenant debate

The Sunday afternoon session of General Synod opened with an address by the Most Revd Drexel Gomez (Archbishop of the West Indies and chair of the Anglican Covenant Design Group). Synod then went onto a full-scale debate on the proposed Anglican Covenant. The debate was on the following motion moved by the Bishop of Chichester.

‘That this Synod:

(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;

(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and

(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.’

Three amendments were moved. Mr Tim Cox (a council member of Church Society) moved:

Leave out everything after “That this Synod” and insert:

(a) note the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007;

(b) believe that the Covenant process will prove inadequate to address the problems presently dividing the Communion; and

(c) urge all the Provinces of the Anglican Communion to declare themselves in communion only with those Provinces, dioceses and congregations that:
(i) assert whole-heartedly that the Scriptures are the Word of God;
(ii) uphold the historic Anglican formularies (the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal); and
(iii) on the current presenting cause of division, uphold the Biblical teaching that sexual intercourse belongs solely within the lifelong commitment of a man and woman in marriage.

Mr Justin Brett (Oxford) moved:

In paragraph (a) leave out the words “affirm its willingness to engage positively with” and insert “note”.

The Revd Jonathan Clark (London) moved:

In paragraph (c) leave out all the words after “the Archbishops’ Council” and insert “to bring back to the next group of sessions of Synod for approval a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office”.

Each of the three amendments was defeated on a show of hands. Finally the Bishop of Chichester’s unamended motion was put to the vote and carried on a show of hands.

The background paper to the debate is here with Annex 4 and Annex 5.

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Graham Kings
Guest

This is very good news indeed for the Church of England and for the whole Anglican Communion.

We are interdependent.

Let’s keep praying for the Lambeth Conference and for the whole process of the Anglican Covenant.

Pluralist
Guest

Well it is not good news, because what can’t hold and sustain later on shouldn’t be processed through early on. Actually I’m not surprised. There was a sense of panic abroad – a sort of what happens if we don’t do it anxiety (whereas Colin Slee’s point was better – the more loyal decision would have been to drop it). I haven’t seen any details of how it was debated. We shall of course see what happens now, on September 30th, at the Lambeth Conference, and afterwards. The issue remains the same: whether any Covenant would work, whether the one… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

I certainly will keep praying, thank you Graham! That the whole process be reconsidered. I am a member of the Church of England, and a part of the loose fellowship called the ‘Anglican Communion’…so interdependnce is nothing new. But no way can I see a situation of accepting the bullying of Nigeria and the likes…and what a huge mistake to be ceding authority to unelected unaccountable Archbishops!

L Roberts
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L Roberts

I note with interest that the General Synod of the C of E has specifically excluded itself from the process. It wishes to take no further responsibility for the Church’s action, but will ‘leave it to father’. ‘c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.’ This deplorable cop-out leaves me feeling glad again that I am no longer a member of the CofE or its… Read more »

badman
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badman

I’m amazed the General Synod passed up the chance to influence the text of the Covenant. Now they will only be able to vote to accept or reject a text fashioned entirely elsewhere. It is now inevitable that they will accept whatever they are presented with.

I think the members of General Synod have done the Church of England and the Anglican Communion a grave disservice. The responsibility is theirs; by this vote they have deprived themselves of the power to exercise it effectively.

JCF
Guest
JCF

So ++Gomez presented the party-line, and then the GS “drank the Kool-Aid”? WTF????

Lord have mercy!

[And God bless TEC!]

SInner
Guest
SInner

Tim Cox is right of course (and so the rejoicing over at StandFirm is completely wrong http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/4239/)

Read Akinola’s interview in the Times last week: he makes absolutely no references whatsoever to the covenant; is completely clear that he will not attend if anyone who does not meet Tim Cox’s conditions is at Lambeth; and also claims
that the Global South is united behind his approach.

too little, too late.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

It was a last minute decision to attend. Plan B, as I drove through the torrential rain on the approach to York – it was a lovely sunny day further south – was to make a diversion to the city centre for Evensong in the Minster, if I couldn’t find the place or get in to hear the debate. For a fleeting moment I thought the deluge would impede my progress. Luckily, I found Heslington easily enough. The first thing that struck me as I walked through the concrete jungle of the campus, was how bleak and desolate it felt… Read more »

Bob in SW PA
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Bob in SW PA

Does the Queen have any say in this covenant’s approval? Parliament? Just curious.

Simon Cawdell
Guest
Simon Cawdell

Common sense has prevailed, and by a large majority.

Chris
Guest
Chris

I’ll carry some water here:

A) THIS IS UN-ANGLICAN!!!

B) The Synod is wrong – there was no “unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion.” All the primates did was agree to take it back to their national churches.

Methinks many around here are looking like Al Gore’s polar bear as the sun melts away the “facts” of their point of view.

Pluralist
Guest

If it is two to one, the vote, then even under these “must go along with it” conditions a third were against. That is rather a large minority even at this stage to have to contend with in a vote. Hugh of Lincoln here gives first hand a flavour of it (when blogs come into their own), but I’ve looked about to read the presentation and Rochester’s speech via Anglican Mainstream. A note in the Church Times update tells of strong speeches against; it then says Tom Wright dared the synod to vote against, I suppose a bit like the… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

As a priest I have never been comfortable with the way (even senior well educated people with influential jobs) many people infantalise themselves in church, and cede responsibility for decision making to the minister/priest. I refuse to collude. I am mystified how General Synod, in ALL its houses has perpetuated this modus vivendi/operandi. God bless people like JCF and may God provide some mechanism for opting into her way of thinking viz the CofE rather than this tosh.

Pluralist
Guest

The Church Society report is biased, of course (aren’t we all) but I think this is an important insight:

The Synod voted in favour of the motion but with wildly differing views as to what the purpose of the Covenant was going to be.

http://www.churchsociety.org/issues_new/synod/iss_synod_latest.asp

Quite. When its purpose is revealed by its text, then we will see dissent based on those wanting a different text – either more or less restrictive.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“The Synod voted in favour of the motion but with wildly differing views as to what the purpose of the Covenant was going to be.”

All the more astonishing that it handed over all its authority to the Archibishops.
Does anyone have a rational explanation for this?

Malcolm+
Guest
Malcolm+

Part of the problem, of course, is that it is difficult to marshall an unanswerable argument against “being part of a process leading to covenant.” After all, it is just a process, right? This draft is just a draft. The final version may be entirely different. Lot’s of time to deal with the unbalanced issue of the Primates.

However, having failed to state a clear expectation that the final matter will be referred back to General Synod, the majority have shown themselves to have missed the point of having Synods at all.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“is difficult to marshall an unanswerable argument against “being part of a process leading to covenant.” “

How about: “Why is the New Covenant given by God Himself not enough?” I have yet to hear an answer to that one.

Marshall Scott
Guest

From the other side of the water, this resolution looks remarkably bland. In fact General Synod has committed itself to nothing but study and “a considered response” to the Draft Covenant – no commitment to accept the Draft as it is, certainly. That first clause is really much like what the General Convention of the Episcopal Church committed to in Resolution 2006-A166. The resolution also affirms that it is not the “Instruments of Communion” that will establish any covenant, but “the synodical processes of the provinces.” One would assume that would include acceptance of the “considered response” to be prepared… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Ford asks: “Why is the New Covenant given by God Himself not enough?” It’s a good question. Even in the 1st C the church struggled with identifying authentic Christianity from false teaching. There were also issues of organization and strategy seen in many parts of Acts. Both of these needs compelled the church to create structures beyond the New Covenant. Jesus, Paul and John provide many ear marks for what a Christian would look like and what a false teacher might sound like. They were answering a question like “how can I spot the fraud when I don’t know the… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Theological study has blown all that apart, Chris. He was born of a virgin – er, no, the Hebrew Bible said young woman. Her virginity is unlikely, it remains biologically impossible, and it is irrelevant. The belief in the Trinity – it isn’t a doctrine in the Bible, so what’s the big deal. Jesus – there is this historical Jesus, about whom we have so little actual information, who through the fog is more likely to be a last days healer, believing that sin and demons are connected and being prepared for an end of time kingdom. We know that… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

The New Covenant came at a cost, and that cost was borne freely out of love. When we celebrate the Eucharist we remind ourselves of the cost of our freedom. I think we diminish the idea of a Covenant if we use the name for a set of house rules, or for a negotiated agreement. Such things collude with power, and do not subvert it. Amongst signs of hope are that our Archbishops do seem to understand this – though the current draft ‘Covenant’ text betrays no awareness of it. Amongst the danger signs are the people and pressure groups… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

I John 2:20-23

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Jesus, Paul and John provide many ear marks for …what a false teacher might sound like.” Which is my point. I’ve said many times I see bad behaviour on both sides, but the lion’s share is on the Right. I just don’t see the earmarks of truth in their behaviour. “I don’t see how reaffirming the Creeds is a bad thing. “ Nor do I. To be worldly about it, if you can’t sign on to an organization’s mission statement, then you don’t claim membership in the organization. Losing one’s faith is not a crime, so why retain a claim… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“her virginity is unlikely, it remains biologically impossible” What does biological impossibility have to do with God? “what’s the big deal” about the Trinity? Lots. Even our God is a community, and our actions have to be taken in community. The Trinity is an indictment of the individualism of Western society. In the Trinity the Persons are equal, despite those who would redefine the Trinity to justify keeping a collar off women’s necks. We, made in the likeness of the Trinity, are also equal. “how this tradition or that supplies a means to a reflective path” For me, it is… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Ford,

Let’s agree both sides can improve and leave it at that. Let’s also agree that human sexuality does not rise to the level of dogma (a.k.a doctrine that is Creedal).

As for the Apostle’s “failure” – we’re human too and the production model hasn’t improved much in 2000 years. If they had issues, we have the same issues. It seems like the wise thing to do would be to follow their lead, assuming they had special revelation we do not.

Pluralist
Guest

_What does biological impossibility have to do with God?_ Nothing – but it has plenty to do with being human. The Trinity is not designed to be some anti-Western anti-individualist something or other, it was a conclusion about divinity that is only one of the options to derive out of the New Testament. OK, you’ve said this before, you want this realist “nature of the world” assurance (insurance, certainty?): for me the discovery is in the religious path, the walk with, and does not need such scaffolding. Scaffolded systems are essentially authoritarian at some point, they don’t allow the left… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“you want this realist “nature of the world” assurance (insurance, certainty?)” No, far from it, I am uncomfortable with certainty, I much prefer healthy doubt. In fact, my return to faith was fuelled in no small part by a growing awareness of a huge intangible side of the human experience, one that is much better accessed by religion and poetry than by science and analysis. It is abstract and filled with uncertainty. I’m not sure about your comment about “scaffolding”. I identify with your reference to the “walk”, but do you mean that we do not need guidance and clarification… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

I’m just going by the statement that you want incarnation as a construction that exists, and that it is not just a message. For me incarnation is like a set of guideposts of a message, a message of a community. To try and make this point in another way, it (incarnation) isn’t a thingy that is accessible from any other intellectual discipline. For contrast, if there is a scientific entity, then it can be accessed, say, as having sociological impact, and it is a thingy. But in the end, incarnation has no other output anywhere other than some people engaged… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Pluralist, Interesting, and I’d love to explore this further, though that would require derailing this thread utterly. I don’t think we’re actually all that far apart, and that where we do differ is in our understanding of words like “real”. I often speak of the “Christian mythology”, by which I do not mean fables and fairy tales, but deep truth. Genesis is myth, but still encapsulates what I think are basic truths about our human existence, the story of David as we read it in the OT is myth/propaganda meant to make a specific set of points, but contains truth… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Pluralist, The moral-philosopher Obi-Wan Kenobi posed the question, “Who’s the more foolish: The fool, or the fool who follows him?” Claiming to be God while actually being just a carpenter in a repressed backwater, under the rule of the most powerful nation on earth and holding to that claim to the point of death is certainly foolish, is it not? Why worship someone like that? Sure, Jesus said some nice stuff about being a nice person, but so did John Lennon. Celebrating the death (I assume you’re not into the whole resurrection thing) of a fool every week makes a… Read more »